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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #31  
Old 05-22-2010
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dieselox is on a distinguished road
I had all the same concerns when I first started sailing our Folkboat out of the Berkeley (CA) marina. I had a barely running Seagull long-shaft (had to hold the magneto plate to one side with my toe, wore holes in my shoe), and the chop was often so bad the motor was only in the water less than half the time. I'd only ever sailed a Laser for a weekend previously, and naively thought, hey I can drive an outboard motor boat; we'll just motor out and raise the main in a safe place away from shore and other boats, teach ourselves how to sail. Any trouble, we'll just drop the main and motor home. That worked until the drop the main and motor home part: starting a finicky seagull in heavy chop was too much for me.

I asked a fellow Folkboater how they dealt with the outboard in the heavy chop, and they noted that if there was chop, it was windy. When it's windy, sail, if it's dead flat, motor.

The last obstacle to engine-less sailing was getting back in to a downwind slip on a windy day; after hitting the dock a lot harder than was pleasant that first time out, I had a salty sailor friend ride home with me to help me plan the return route. He figured out a place farther out to drop the mainsail upwind, then coast into the slip under jib alone, letting go the jib sheet for the last 50 yards or so to coast in slowly.

We put the seagull in the garage and sailed every other weekend for 2 1/2 years with no further incidents, beyond the occasional sudden education of motoring boaters to the right of way rules regarding sailing vessels. Even when the wind appears to die, little puffs come up and eventually take you home. What's the rush anyway? More time sailing.
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  #32  
Old 05-22-2010
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Ahhhhh. How refreshing to hear. That's why they call them "sail" boats! I went onto a popular sailing forum recently (not Sailnet) and typed "engine" into the search window and ran that for the number of hits. Then "sail" and ran that one. Searches came out 60% for the word "engine" and 40% for the word "sail". Go figure.

Few maneuvers teach you more about seamanship than tight quarters sailing. It amazes me just how maneuverable many sailboats are under bare poles. with the wind aft of the beam. We docked boats like this many times when I taught at the Chapman School of Seamanship in Stuart, Florida.

The boats were donated, weren't in the best of shape, so somtimes their engines failed to start after a day of sailing. If conditions were right, we would take them in under sail or bare poles, into their slip.

We rigged the bow with long spring lines, and attached one spring to each bow cleat. The springs were about 2/3 the overall length of the boat with large 2' to 3' eyes formed in the end.

Two crew would man the springs at the bow, drape the eyes over the outside pilings on both sides the moment the bow of the boat entered the slip. Worked like a charm.

The springs would stop the boat nice and gentle. And, because they were shortened, this prevented contact with the seawall at the head of the slip. This worked time and again, so it proved itself as a repeatable maneuver. Which I believe to be the essence of seamanship--repeatability.

Captain John
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  #33  
Old 05-22-2010
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Dieselox,

Two issues with going "engineless", getting in and out of the dock and then being out there with the "big boys". Sailed out of Sausalito for ten years and saw some real disasters with people sailing in and out of their dock. Congratulations for mastering it, not easy. As you know in the late fall and winter the winds in the Bay can be on the light side, storms being the exception. When the wind dies and you are in "thin" water where the ships and tugs can't go, no problem, you just sit there and hope some power boat doesn't run you down. If you are crossing the shipping lanes without a motor and the wind dies you are in great danger. As mentioned earlier, for liability purposes they might try full astern just before they run you down. Suggest you don't become over confident. Had a few occasions where if my motor didn't start I wouldn't be here.

Dabnis
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  #34  
Old 05-22-2010
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Just remembered this, many years ago I think I read something to the effect of "smaller vessels shall not impede larger vessels with limited maneuvering capabilities" or something like that. Being enginless with no wind and crossing the shipping lanes may fall into that category? Perhaps JACKDALE can jump in here with the specifics?

Dabnis
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  #35  
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skippertips is on a distinguished road
You refer to International Rule 9 and Rule 10 of the Navigation Rules:

RULE 9
Narrow Channels


(b) A vessel of less than 20 meters in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway.

and it's repeated again in International Rule 10, where the rules talk about Traffic Separation Schemes:

RULE 10
Traffic Separation Schemes


(j) A vessel of less than 20 meters in length or a sailing vessel shall not
impede the safe passage of a power-driven vessel following a traffic lane.

In my mind, that means you had better have a good backup plan when sailing near busy channels or traffic schemes. Hefty ground tackle with several hundred feet of rode is a must. The Pardeys, who cruised for years without an engine, recommend carrying a skulling oar. They state that they can propel their heavy displacement boat at a knot or so. Good enough to slide over to the side of a channel in a pinch.

Captain John
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  #36  
Old 05-23-2010
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Sailormon6 will become famous soon enough
I used to crew for an old friend on his Etchel, and he always sailed with no motor. He carried an oar for those occasions when there was not a breath of air.

Also, he taught me to not use the jib when returning to his slip in light air, because, if you had a gust of wind as you were entering the slip, you couldn't smother the jib quickly or fully enough, and it propelled the boat into the dock. He used the mainsail, but he lowered it until most of it was flaked down on the boom. Only a small triangle of the mainsail was raised above the boom.

If we were entering the slip downwind, we only had enough sail area exposed to add slightly to the effect of the wind on the bare hull and pole. That was enough to provide steerageway and control, but not so much that it would accelerate significantly if there was a sudden gust, and it could be smothered fairly easily.

If we were entering the slip to windward, the mainsail, lowered in that manner, allowed us to drive to windward, while providing us enormous control in the event of a sudden gust. If you're trying to sail to windward with a jib, it's much more difficult to limit boatspeed in a sudden gust, because, to a large extent, the whole sail area of the jib is either trimmed and driving the boat too fast, or it's luffed and providing no drive at all. It's like driving a car that only has two speeds - either full idle, or pedal to the metal.
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  #37  
Old 05-23-2010
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skippertips is on a distinguished road
Sailormon,
That's very close to the procedure we used. The mainsail gives much more control. We lowered the main a bit at a time as the boat entered the canal. This de-powered the sail, but still gave enough momentum for bare steerage.

Headsails may have their place in some docking maneuvers, but I dislike how the sail and sheets get in the way of the foredeck crew tending the bow springs.
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  #38  
Old 05-24-2010
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skippertips, when you mentioned sailing into a slip under bare poles, it reminded me that, at one time I experimented with sailing under bare poles, just to see how much control you can get by it. I found that you don't need a full gale to sail under bare poles. You can do it, even in moderate winds. Also, under favorable circumstances (especially in smooth water), you can even tack to windward to a certain extent, although it obviously takes patience. It surprised me how much control you can have under bare poles. I was sailing a 25' keel boat at the time, and haven't tried it with my present 35' cruising boat, but don't know why it wouldn't work with a bigger, heavier boat. I'm sure that one reason why it worked so well for me is that I was an active racer, and my bottom and keel were always clean and fast, so there wasn't much drag to resist the small amount of driving force the wind has on the hull.

Sailing a 31' boat into a slip isn't something I'd recommend to a novice, because it takes skill novices don't have, and some slips really aren't amenable to it, depending on their location and the wind direction, but there are lots of ways you can get a boat into a slip if you practice some of the alternative methods before you actually have to do it.
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  #39  
Old 05-24-2010
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Sailormon, great points. One thing that I passed on to folks was the art of "feathering the rudder" to turn a boat under bare poles--or with bare steerageway--90 degrees or more into the slip. Feathering also slows momentum. Here's a blurb from an article I wrote:

How to Feather the Rudder

Use hard sweeps to turn your boat in a sharp turn. With a sailboat wheel, throw the wheel hard in the direction of the turn. Bring it back amidships smooth and easy. Then, throw it hard again in the direction of the turn. Continue this method until you bring the boat around.

With a sailboat tiller, use this same process, but push the tiller hard away from the direction of your turn. Then bring it back smooth and easy and repeat the feathering technique. Continue this method until you bring the boat around.

When you have the bow pointed toward the slip, drop your speed if necessary with a "quick-feather" technique. Sweep the wheel or tiller from side to side fast, without the smooth return motion described for turning. This slows your boat to a crawl for an easy, controlled docking.
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  #40  
Old 05-24-2010
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I agree with all comments about sailing across shipping lanes. I was always conservative to a fault regarding anything slightly questionable. Two points about sailing with no engine: 1) you really need to study local conditions (tides, currents, shipping lanes, everything else) 2) sailing with no motor, you learn real fast.

The hard part is knowing your own limitations. I crewed for a skipper who thought he could sail well, but repeatedly stopped his boat head to wind through sheer incompetence, a lack of feel on the helm. He'd taken many sailing classes, but somehow just couldn't grasp the basics. That's when you're most dangerous.

We had no trouble sailing under jib alone on a beam reach back into our down wind slip. On really windy days, we'd douse the jib before the turn, to keep all the sheets clear of the dock. The main on a Folkboat typically has no reef points; letting the main down part way drops the boom in your lap.

Last edited by dieselox; 05-24-2010 at 10:52 AM.
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